New Environment Minister Dan Rogerson has written to stakeholders in the resource and environmental sector to tell them Defra plans to give up on certain policy areas.
In the letter, the Minister said that Defra will be pulling out of areas such as commercial and industrial waste and energy from waste because “a sustainable and resource efficient economy can and should delivered with little Government intervention as industry responds to the clear business case for action”.
In reassessing Defra’s activities for 2014/15, he wrote that the “Government’s role should reduce as businesses increasingly realise the economic and commercial opportunities that arise from resource efficiencies and tackling the environmental challenges. It also reflects that public funding is under extreme pressure and Government must ensure that this limited public funding is focussed on the key priorities.”
He added that from April 2014 Defra will step back and will not have the capacity to take forward new policy work on areas such as commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste.
It will also not be proactive in energy from waste development and its work on anaerobic digestion and food waste are nearing completion.
On local authorities the Minister wrote: “Given the strong financial case for local authorities to realise efficiencies from their waste contracts, we will be reducing the amount of generic support we provide to them in this and related areas.”
However, he said that Defra would continue to support business, including by ensuring the negotiation and implementation of proportionate EU waste agreements especially as the European Commission will be bringing forward proposals on waste and resource efficiency.
Defra will also continue funding WRAP and will press ahead with the new regulations for materials recycling facilities.
Dan Rogerson also said that following the publication of the Waste Prevention Programme for England later this year, Defra will take forward a “limited programme of work on waste prevention, focusing our attention on the areas where action is clearly for Government.”